I’m a big fan of the Lean Startup movement. At the heart of Lean Startup methodology is the concept of “Pivoting”, essentially changing the product, the target market, the business model, etc when the startup can’t prove its original hypothesis.
In a talk with a veteran entrepreneur this week, he said something that caught my attention:
“Not a lot changed in the last 20 years, you call it Pivot, and I call it never giving up. As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t give up. The wall is there to keep other people out” (a reference from Randy Pauch’s Last Lecture).
There are numerous examples of companies that pivoted (or persevered) their way to success. A recent one is Rovio, the makers of the most successful mobile game of all times. The company made 49 games before making Angry Birds, and was on the verge of closing, when they made this hit title. Today, the daily time spent on Angry Birds worldwide is equivalent to 125 years a day! Another example of a successful pivot is Groupon – a company that started its way as a platform for political activists and subsequently created a new form of commerce advertising in the form of daily deals. If you want to get inspired, check out the 15 greatest tech pivots ever.
Today’s technology allows us to put experiments out there, test the reaction and iterate according to the results of the experiment. For example, a team working on a hackathon over the course of a weekend comes up with a product idea to help deliver uses with daily recipes. Rather than develop a whole product, investing in coding, design, etc, they can rather easily create a landing page (ideally several) asking people to leave their email if they want to get notified on the launch. It’s easy (and relatively cheap) to drive traffic with online ads (ideally Adwords) and for £50 (or the equivalent dollars/NIS etc) get a feel from the market on whether what you’re building has any value. I know this may sound basic to many of you, but I’m constantly surprised of how many people never heard of this.
There are also plenty of tools to help you iterate on your designs/wireframes/landing pages. Here are a few of them:
- Most popular: http://www.balsamiq.com/
Point in case, it doesn’t matter what you call it, but make sure you always have new ways to think about your business. Solve a problem, or get around it, but don’t give up!
If you want to learn more about Lean Startup, check out these book recommendations.